An introduction to Time Lapse

Time lapse photography or time-lapse filmmaking works by a single image or frame being taken at intervals, ranging usually from seconds to hours in order to capture a process which usually takes a good deal of time to occur, but for which the photographer or filmmaker wants to display in its entirety but at a speed far more rapid than the rate at which the event or process has actually taken place. When all the images needed have been captured. these individual frames are edited or sequenced together at around 25-frames-per-second, to produce a time lapse sequence or film.

Even amateur photographers or filmmakers can try this, usually by connecting their camera to an interval meter which instructs the camera to take individual frames at pre-set intervals.

This is fine for very short period time lapse work, where the camera can be physically checked and is kept indoors or, if outdoors, is operating in dry and relatively warm conditions.

However, long-period time lapse work or time lapse work in extreme locations needs a much more professional approach. Specialists in long period time lapse can leave their cameras to operate for weeks, months or years. They achieve this in the following ways:

Firstly, they mount their cameras in specially designed housings, which contain heating, cooling, and air conditioning systems, which keep equipment operating to the optimum, in carefully controlled conditions.

Next, they connect their cameras to more complex control mechanisms, which not only control the camera’s operation but also allow considerable amounts of data to be managed. In addition, these control systems and the cameras themselves are usually remotely managed by networking them, in order that they can be controlled remotely and data can be transferred and backed up. Also, these systems often need to be powered in specialist ways too, such as through solar paneling or wind turbine systems.

Such specialist companies usually work for a variety of clients. Broadcasters or media production companies who wish to incorporate time lapses into their programs or works may employ them.
Construction companies may also use their services in order to record a building or construction project for training or quality purposes or to inform of ‘process’ and/or for promotional purposes.

Promotional companies may also employ such specialists in order to record a particular even or occasion.

Because such specialists network their systems and upload all the images collected, they can also offer clients special access (via the web) to the ‘live’ frames being recorded, in order that clients can monitor a job themselves. Clients may want to do this for a variety of reasons. For example, surveyors, architects, stakeholders, colleagues etc can view projects from anywhere in the world, or access can be given to the public to promote a build, or to sell a product or service. Access is provided by some, on Smartphones too, via ‘apps’.

So, as well as time-lapsing, these specialist companies, at the same time, can offer all sorts of imaging services. The cameras can even be used for 24/7 security monitoring. and in a way that is better than normal CCTV, as the images they provide are usually in HD (High Definition) and can be digitally zoomed into to show great detail of a particular aspect of a project.